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tv   Key Capitol Hill Hearings  CSPAN  May 8, 2014 2:00pm-4:01pm EDT

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the presiding officer: anyone wishing to vote or change his or
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her vote? if not, the yeas are 94, the nays are zero. the nomination is confirmed. the majority leader. the next vote is to occur on the peterson nomination. mr. reid: yield back that time. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. the time is yielded back and the question is on the motion. nomination. is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the ayes are 70, the nays are 24. the nomination is confirmed. under the previous order, there will be two minutes of debate prior it a vote on th the rosenstengel nomination. without objection, all time is yielded back. is there a sufficient second to the yeas and nays? there appears to be.
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the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: is there any senator wishing to vote or change his or her vote? sphn, the ayes are 9 -- the yeas are 95, the nays are zero. and the fogs is confirmed. the majority leader. -- the nomination is confirmed. the majority leader. the senate will come to order.
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mr. reid: on the next nomination i ask consent to yield back that time and this will be the last vote. the other votes, if any, will be by voice. monday we'll have at least three votes starting at 5:30. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the 0 cloture motion. the clerk: in, hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of robin s. rosenbaum of florida to be judge for the 11th circuit signed by 17 senators. the presiding officer: all time has been yielded back. by unanimous consent the mandatory quorum call has been waived. the question is: is it the sense of the senate that debat on the nomination of robin s. rosenbaum of florida to be united states circuit judge for the 11th circuit shall be brought to a close? the yeas and nays are mandatory
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under the rule. the clerk will call the roll. vote:
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the presiding officer: are there any senators in the chamber wishing to vote or change their vote? if not, the yeas are 58, the
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nays are 36. the motion is confirmed. the nomination. the motion is agreed to. under the previous order, with respect to the talwani, peterson, and rosenstengel nominations, the motions to reconsider be considered made and laid upon the table, the president will be immediately notified of the senate's action, and the senate will resume legislative session.
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the presiding officer: the
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senate will resume executive session. the clerk will report the rosenbaum nomination. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, robin rosenbaum of florida to be united states circuit judge of florida for the 11th circuit. the presiding officer: under the previous order, the clerk will report the mitchell nomination. the clerk: department of education, theodore reed mitchell of california to be under secretary. a senator: i yield back all time on the nomination. the presiding officer: question occurs on the nomination. all in favor say aye. all opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the nomination is confirmed. the president will immediately be notified of the senate's
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action. the senate will resume legislative session. mr. heller: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from nevada. mr. heller: thank you, mr. president. as has been discussed this week i believe our nation needs a comprehensive energy policy that allows us to develop our own domestic resources and use existing resources more efficiently. the united states is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and we have the ability to ensure an affordable, stable supply of energy needed to power our economy by developing them responsibly. democrats and republicans must work together to develop concrete policies that will lower prices, expand domestic production and reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy and minerals. that's why the debate we're having in the senate this week is so important. as a member of the senate energy
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and natural resources committee, i have seen how much work has gone into the energy savings and industrial competitiveness act so far and have enjoyed being part of that process. this committee also has oversight over many of the other important energy policies we've been debating this week. that is why i was disappointed to see a procedural step taken by the majority yesterday blocking considerations of any amendments, even amendments related to the very legislation that we are considering today. i sincerely hope that prior to the cloture vote on this bill, we can find bipartisan path forward to vote on related amendments such as the keystone. pipeline. earlier this week i filed two amendments that i hope would be included in the debate this week. these initiatives would expand energy development and put the
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brakes on programs that would increase our constituents electrical bills at a time when families across this country have been forced to tighten their belts. both of these amendments are consistent with the goals of the legislation before us today and are worthy of consideration, i believe, by this body. my first amendment, 2987, mirrors the legislation i introduced in the senate last december. the energy consumers relief act. this initiative would help protect americans from new billion-dollar e.p.a. regulations that may increase energy prices and of course destroy jobs. the united states and especially my home state of nevada continues to grapple with high unemployment, with record numbers of americans underemployed and with families struggling to make ends meet. instead of advocating for policies that will put people back to work, the obama administration continues to develop rules that will increase
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americans' utility costs, causing companies to lay off employees and stifle economic growth. just last month the e.p.a. and the army corps of engineers put forth a new rule that will significantly expand federal regulatory authority under the clean water act. this rule would have a chilling effect, particularly out west where our water resources are scant and hydropower plays a significant role in our energy portfolio. just this week i visited with local irrigation managers in our rural electrical cooperatives in my office and they expressed strong concerns that the substantial regulatory costs associated with the changes in jurisdiction and increased permitting requirements will result in bureaucratic barriers to economic growth, infrastructure development and energy production. these are the types of administrative actions congress must rein in. my amendment would specifically require that the e.p.a. be transparent when proposing and
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issuing energy-related regulations with an economic impact of $1 billion or more. additionally, it would prohibit the e.p.a. from finalizing a rule if the secretary of energy, in consultation with other relevant agencies, determines the rule would cause significant adverse effects to the economy. all we're talking about here, mr. president, is transparency and accountability. american taxpayers deserve nothing less from their government. it is important to note that this initiative passed the house with overwhelming bipartisan support last year. the senate should do the same. my second amendment, 2992, which i teamed up with my friend from montana, senator jon tester to craft this piece of, this legislation, it's an initiative we've been working on for many years. the public lands renewable energy development act is a strong bipartisan proposal that helps create jobs, progress
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towards energy independence and preserves our nation's natural wonders by spurring renewable energy development on public lands. in nevada, we need jobs. not policies that make job creation more difficult. energy is one of our state's greatest assets, and i believe that continuing to develop renewable and alternative resources are important for nevada's economic future. geothermal and solar production in my state is an integral part of the united states all-of-the-above energy strategy. in fact, my home state of nevada is often called the saudi arabia of geothermal. our nation's public lands can play a critical role in that mission but uncertainty in the process impedes or delays our ability to harness their renewable energy potential. under current law, permits for wind and solar development are completed under the same process for other surface use like pipelines and roads or power
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lines. the public land management agencies need a permitting process tailored to the unique characteristics and impacts of renewable energy process. this initiatives develops a process that will drive investments toward the highest equal renewable sources. in addition, the legislation establishes a revenue-sharing mechanism that ensures fair return for all. since federal lands are not taxable, state and local governments deserve a share of the revenues from the sales of energy production on public lands within their borders. these resources will help local governments deliver critical service and develop much-needed capital improvement projects such as road maintenance, public safety and law enforcement. additionally revenues will be utilized to support fish and wildlife conservation projects and increase outdoor recreation such as hunting, fishing, hiking, activities that serve as a critical economic engine in
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the rural parts of my state. there's no doubt alternative sources of energy are a critical component of our all-the-above energy future. while we work to develop and perfect alternative technologies, we need to secure our economy now by having an energy policy that respects the cause of the problem, supply and demand. i hope the senate can put partisan politics aside and have the opportunity to vote on related amendments to this bill like those that i've just discussed today. these strong bipartisan proposals will rein in harmful regulations and spur domestic energy production. congress should take this opportunity to take a major step forward in implementing the 21st century energy policies that will create jobs and keep consumer energy prices low. mr. president, thank you. and with that, i yield the floor.
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ms. klobuchar: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. ms. klobuchar: mr. president, i come to the senate floor today to honor the life of a truly remarkable man, a devoted husband, a loving father and grandfather, a dedicated friend and a true public servant. jim oberstar was a man of purpose and grit who never stopped fighting for the people of his district, the people of northeastern minnesota. his resilience was like the resilience of the people that he represented. he was one of those rare people who was just as comfortable in the aurora, minnesota, parade in khakis and tennis shoes as he was at the french embassy. one unique thing about jim oberstar was that he always broke into french at a moment's
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notice and he would literally speak french at the french embassy and paris, but he might also speak french at the aurora parade even though no one else there spoke french. whether he was biking the masabi trail or fishing on sturgeon lake or hanging out with some of his constituents at tom and jerry's bar in chisolm which is where he grew up, he always loved northern minnesota and the people he represented. jim never lost sight of where he came from or the values that he grew up with. he knew that among other things, his job in washington was to be an advocate, and he approached every day with a fierce but disciplined urgency of purpose. what i love most about him was that in a day of sound bites and quick fixes, he was never afraid to give that long, long explanation of why he voted for something or why he thought something was important to his
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constituents. as the "star tribune" noted this week, jim was always a popular editorial of guests and meetings with him were -- quote -- "the equivalent of a graduate school seminar." when i think about jim, i first think of someone whose roots are also in northern minnesota, whose grandpa worked in the mines. i think about him, about how he fought hard to keep the mines open when times were tough, back when things were bleak and people were hurting. like my own grandpa, jim's dad was slovenian and he was proud of that, and jim's dad, like my own brand pa, was also an underground miner. they were part of a generation of immigrants that toiled hundreds of feet under ground day after day to mine the iron ore that built this nation and kept the world free in world war ii. it was a hard, hard life.
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long days and treacherous conditions. their families living in fear of that dreaded whistle that meant another miner had been injured or killed. jim knew that sound well because he lived through it. so when jim got to congress, he fought tirelessly to not only keep the mines open, but to protect the rights of the workers and to improve safety. during his first years in the house, jim pushed for legislation that created the mine safety and health administration. today, thanks to the hard work of congressman jim oberstar, mining conditions have greatly improved. that was bread and butter legislating for jim. straightforward, commonsense policies that made people's lives better. it sounds simple, but we know that in washington today, there are too many people who would rather score political points than get down to the hard work
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of governing. not jim oberstar. he was a man of conviction. in a business known for rewarding the expedient over the noble, he lived a life of principle. he played the long game and he did it on behalf of the american people. that is a great american. and that is a legacy worth celebrating. we lost jim suddenly this week in the middle of the night, in his sleep. the day before, he had spent the day with his grandkids. he had gone to one of his grandchild's plays. he had been going on long bike rides. and even after he lost his election in 2010, he never let it get him down. he just took all that energy and zest for life and put it into his family and put it into the continuing work he did on transportation and put it into his friends and just everything he loved to do. so we mourn him today, but we
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also celebrated the incredible gift that jim gave to our country. it is awe inspiring to think about w much time he spent mastering federal transportation policy. 47 years, nearly five decades. 11 as a staff member on the house transportation committee and 36 as an elected representative. during that time, he literally changed the landscape of minnesota and the country. his fingerprints can be found on just about every major federally funded transportation project during the last five decades -- roads, bridges, tunnels, rails, lox and dams, bike paths -- locks and dams. jim loved those bike paths. he was a visionary. he was in front of everyone on that. he would try to get money for bike paths and everyone would laugh at him. who cares about bike t paths? now everyone wants bike paths in their communities.
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everyone who drives in an airplane or drives our federal highways can thank jim oberstar. every american who bikes their bike trails, who hikes places like the beautiful lake superior trail in northern minnesota or drives on our national highways and bridges should remember him. he was a treasure-trove of facts and figures and advice for every member of congress. he always used to kind of poke fun at the senate because he claimed things kind of went here and didn't get done, and he would always say all that ever happens in the senate is you ratify treaties and confirm judges. one day, close to my own election, i was looking at the newspaper clips and i saw my name next to jim saying that, and i thought oh, no, what has he said? it was in the "international falls paper q i got it out and he said well, all the senate ever does is confirm judges and ratify treaties, but amy's going to try to rescue this bill, she will try to get it done, and i
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was quite relieved. one of the most memorable stories for me came on his last day in the house when members came and told stories about him, and there was a congressman from pennsylvania who talked about the time that jim visited his district to celebrate the opening of a new bridge. he said that jim stood up with no notes and recited with incredible detail almost every infrastructure project that had ever been built in that district, and along with the name of every congressman that had ever served in the district, with all the right pronunciations, and he even included their middle initials, and he did it with no notes. the congressman was in awe. he walked back to his office and he started looking back through the records and googling things. it was no surprise to anyone that jim was exactly right. that was jim. he loved politics. he thought about government as
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an honorable profession, and he was so proud of the people that followed in his footsteps, whether what he taught senator franken and myself as we started representing minnesota or one o his favorites, the mayor of duluth, don ness, who he started working with him when he was 23 years old as a young aide. whether it was all the staff members that worked for him for all those years. he was so proud of the people that he taught, the people that he mentored. he was so proud of the members of congress, democrats and republicans that he worked with. he would so often work to get amendments and get little projects for them for their districts, and then he would let them take the credit when they went home. i want to end today with something that jim said in his farewell speech to congress. he was reflecting on why he had originally run for office, and this is what he said. he said -- "the reason why i came is to serve the people, to
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meet the needs of their respective families and to leave this district, leave this house, leave this nation a better place than i found it. there is no question, mr. president, that jim oberstar left this world better than he found it. through his incredible legacy of public service, he found immortality. in the beautiful children and grandchildren that were and are his family, he has left the world a better place. the youngest one, a little baby that we met today at the funeral, was just recently adopted. and jim's daughter named him jim. he left the world so much. he not only taught us how to win elections, because he knew how to do that, he also taught us how to act and what to do when you lose an election. he has found immortality in the hearts of those who knew him and
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the lives of countless more who never will. in the majestic grandeur of stately bridges and in the cool shadows of quiet bike paths, in the hardhats hanging in the lockers of hardworking miners that go home safely at the end of the day. that's where you will find jim oberstar. that's where his legacy lives on. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. mr. franken: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from minnesota. mr. franken: thank you. i want to thank senator klobuchar for her moving words, her moving tribute to jim oberstar. we both had the honor of speaking today at his funeral. we were both honored by his wife jean and by his family. jim served the eighth district
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for 36 years as -- as their representative. he served for 11 years before that, senator klobuchar said as a staffer here on the hill. and as she said, he died last week in his sleep. i think amy told me -- senator klobuchar told me that the family said that he wasn't 99%, he was 100%. so this came as a shock to all of us who knew jim, and obviously deeply saddened us all. i announced for the u.s. senate in february of 2007. a few days later, i had my first public event where i took questions from folks, and this is at a coffee shop in st. james, minnesota, in the
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southwest corner of our state in the first district. the first question i got was from a woman asking if i believe there should be term limits, and from the way she asked it, i knew she thought there should be term limits. i thought great, my very first question and i don't agree with the person who is asking it. so i said no, i don't believe in term limits, and let me tell you why. jim oberstar. jim has been a congressman from the eighth district for 33 years now, and he is chairman of the house transportation committee, and he knows more about transportation than anybody else in the country. and everybody in the coffee shop, including the woman, kind of went yeah, they nodded, yeah, that makes sense. jim was a walking advertisement
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against term limits. he was the consummate public servant. it was -- it was all because he was a man who sought knowledge. he had a fierce curiosity about the world and an intense need to understand how things work. all that enabled him to accomplish so much. if jim were here today, if he had one more chance to speak to all of us, first he would say how much he loved his family and his friends and the people who worked for him. then he would tell us the history of american infrastructure, starting with the erie canal and how it opened up midwestern agriculture to europe because, he would explain, it was 97% more efficient to ship those goods
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over water and then the hudson and over to europe than before. and he would tell us how the erie canal made new york harbor, new york city, made it what it is today. and then he would take us through the transcontinental railroad and rural electrification and the interstate highway system and all the way to rural broadband. then he would just go back to the roman aqueducts which were built by slave labor and make an impassioned speech about the history of the labor movement. jim sometimes had a tendency to go too long, but it was because he believed that everyone was as curious about the world as he was, and he was almost always wrong about that.
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i once had the opportunity to speak before jim at the naming ceremony for the james oberstar riverfront complex, the headquarters for the voyageur national park in northern minnesota. before speaking, i took the opportunity to predict what jim would talk about. i said he would talk about the legislative -- he would tell us the legislative history of voyager national park. he would tell us about all the different streams of funding for the park. he would tell us the history of the french voyageurs, the first white men in minnesota, and that during the first part of the speech jim would speak in startlingly fluent french. everyone laughed, including jim, but that didn't stop jim from telling us the legislative history of the park, all the different funding streams and all about the voyageurs and that
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part in french. and delighting in every word of it. the first time i ever saw him chair, i went over to the house to see him chair a committee, it was on high-speed rail. he had witnesses from china and japan and france and some other european country, and when it got time for him to do his questioning, i learned that jim had piloted every one of those high-speed rail systems. and of course when he questioned the french witness, he did it in french, and it was a tour deforce, which i believe is french. jim understood the importance of infrastructure to our economy, to economic development, and as
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amy was saying for recreation. his legacy will be in the ports and locks and dams and highways and bridges and water systems throughout our country, but it will also be in the bike paths in minnesota and around the country. jim was an avid bike rider, and he used to say that he wanted to turn our transportation system, the fuel from hydrocarbons to hydrocarbates. it all came from jim's thirst for knowledge. the pages are here. i would urge you to thirst for knowledge. not just information. some people in this town or in other places, too, just look for enough information to achieve
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some short-term goal. jim sought knowledge, an understanding of how things work. because of that, he was able to get things done and was respected by all of his colleagues on both sides of the aisle. amy and i were both there for the day that colleagues on the house paid tribute to him and with both sides of the aisle equally. we had a retirement tribute for jim in duluth in 2011, and don ness, the mayor of duluth, about whom amy spoke briefly and who was at the service today, told a story at that tribute which says everything about jim as a guy.
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don was 23 years old. he had been just hired to be jim's campaign manager, and this was his first thing to do with him was the fourth of july parades. now, the fourth of july parades on the iron range are a big deal. there is a lot of them. there were six of these in 24 hours. and this was his big chance to impress his new boss, and he screwed up every bit of it. the first thing he did was he was so obsessed with making arrangements that he forget to make his own -- forgot to make his own hotel reservation on the range. don lived in duluth. so he drove around the range to get a room until 1:30 in the morning and he found one in virginia, minnesota, and so he overslept and had to drive to chisholm and was late so he picked up -- he picked up jim
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and he decided -- to make up the time, he just drove fast and, of course, he got pulled over. and got a ticket. which made them really late for this parade and they got put at the end behind the horses on a very, very hot, sweatering delay -- sweltering day. so all during the day, donnie makes one screwup after another, he offended local t.f.l. activists, he lost jim for about half an hour. jim knew where he was but he didn't know where jim was. and he left this black car parked directly in the sun during a parade, and it just became -- you know what that means. so then thankfully after the fifth parade there was going to
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be like a three-hour break, and they were going to drive to somebody's house where they would be able to eat and get this the air conditioning and relax. and so donnie decided to put the signs in the trunk, and as he was doing it, as he was closing it, he saw the keys in the car locked in the car. and it took them 90 minutes to find someone that could open the car and they lost their break. now, he was a 23-year-old kid and he was certain that he was going to be fired. he felt he deserved to be fired. now, jim had been calm with him all day, been nice to him all day but figured jim was stuck with him till the end of the day and at the end of the day, he'd fire him. so he drives jim home to chisholm, it's 9:00 at night
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now, and he starts -- they get out of the car and he starts to say -- he starts to apologize and says i just blew it today. i know this was my chance, and i've blown it and i'll never be in public service. this guy is now -- what term is he in, amy? third? yeah, third term as mayor of duluth. what did he get? 87% or something like that. and jim stopped him, wouldn't let him finish. stopped him, and he said i'm really proud of you. you've had a tough day. we had a tough day. had you a lot of adversity, a lot of things to overcome and you never lost your head.
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which was really not true. donnie was panicking the entire time. that's probably why donnie made those mistakes. and then he gave don a big hug, that big jim bear hug that so many people talked about today. so then don carried the bag for jim, and jim, too, up to the front porch, and jim said before don went back to the car, he said i'm proud of you. don't worry about today. i'm proud of you. don went back to the car, and his head was swimming with -- he couldn't believe the kindness, the warmth, and then as he started to back out, he looked back and jim was still on the porch.
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he gave him this big wave, said happy independence day. minnesota lost a giant, the united states lost a giant today. or this week. we also lost a good guy. he was a great guy, a great man, and a good guy. mr. president, i would suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: is the senate in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent it be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i hope my republican colleagues will think long and hard the next few days. we made some progress this year, it's been limited but some progress in passing a few bipartisan bills. we started with the ryan budget
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that was significant, we were able to get that done. we were able to get the debt ceiling raised without the struggle we've had the last five years. we were able to pass an omnibus spending bill which was significantly important. we worked together to pass a child care development block grant bill and after four or five attempts to end a filibuster which we were unable to do, finally were able to do that and got five stal -- stalwart republicans to join with us and passed unemployment benefits. today we have shaheen shaheen-portman, energy efficiency, creating 200,000 jobs. it's a really fine piece of legislation, mr. president. it started out good but got better as the bill's sponsors worked together to incorporate ten republican amendments joined by some democrats, and it's a
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better bill now than it's ever been. now, my republican colleagues have been asking for more than a year, please let us vote again on keystone. now, i personally oppose keystone. i think it is really bad to have the most dirty carbon stuff there is to make oil out of it, ship it clear across the united states and then you know what they do? ship it overseas. that's what they'd like to do. i oppose that. but if the republicans think it would help get energy efficiency passed, let's vote on it. and that's what i've told everyone. they want to vote on keystone, that was the agreement we made, let's have a vote on keystone and let the bill that was sponsored by 14 democrats and 14 republicans, seven of each. so i want to be very, very clear
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with my republican colleagues. a keystone vote is on the table if they'llfully simply stand by the agreement they had a week ago with me. all that would do is allow the senate to move forward on a bipartisan energy efficiency bill. republicans have stated and stated and stated they want a vote on keystone. good. let's take a vote on keystone. but can't they take yes for an answer? the answer is no. if we weren't involved in this shell game -- mr. president, if i had seven of my democrats who made an agreement with the republican leader, i think it would be untoward for me to go to those democratic senators and say for base politics, drop
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your approval of what you believe in. mr. president, we've been through this before. no better example of that than the transportation appropriation bill led by chairman murray and ranking member collins. they worked so hard on that. lots and lots of work they did on it. amendments were offered. but you know what happened? the republican leader said we're not going to pass that, and we didn't and that's when the ranking member collins said i've never known -- i'm paraphrasing but this isn't far from an exact quote -- i've never a leader to work so hard against one of their own. so, mr. president, all we're asking is for republicans to drop their filibuster of this bipartisan bill sponsored by 14 democrats and republicans. the bill is supported by the chamber of commerce, business roundtable, national association of manufacturers and many others.
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sadly, the republican leader has said in effect if he didn't get everything he wants, and right now that's a moving target, the republicans who worked on this bill are out of luck. this is not in t spirit of compromise in which this body is supposed to operate. but, unfortunately, it's what we hear all too often from my friend, the republican leader. nothing but endless obstruction and gridlock. i know many republicans are unhappy with the way things have been doing. they talk to me, mr. president. i'm sure part of it is just due -- to get this off their chest, but they want to change things around here. my message to them is the only thing standing in the way of us moving forward on energy efficiency or other bipartisan legislation is to move forward on it and if keystone is the object of what they want done, let's get it done. i hope my republican colleagues
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will think hard in the coming days about the right thing do do. do they want to wont waging obstruction for the sake of obstruction as we've seen with -- with minimum wage, pay equity. we know that the right answer is we should move forward and i hope in the days ahead we'll come together and it's for the american people, mr. president. mr. president. the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: it's my understanding the motion to proceed to h.r. 3474 is now pending. the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. reid: there is a cloture motion i have brought to the desk and i would ask to report that. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion.
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the clerk: cloture motion. we, the undersigned senators, in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the motion to proceed to calendar number 332, h.r. 3474, an act to amend the internal revenue code of 1986 to allow employers to exempt employees with health coverage under tricare or the veterans administration from being taken into account for purposes of the employer mandate under the patient protection and affordable care act signed by 17 senators as follows. reid of nevada, wyden, menendez, murray, tester, canal, leahy, schatz, warner, schumer, rockefeller, cardin, and heinrich. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the mandatory quorum under rule 22 be waived. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered.
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a senator: mr. president? t the presiding officer: the senator from connecticut. mr. blumenthal: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: we are notment mr. blumenthal: i would ask to speak as if in morning business. -- mr. murphy: i ask unanimous consent that katherine martucci from my office be granted floor privileges for the remainder of the year. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. murphy: thank you, mr. president. there was a fairly remarkable hearing in the house of representatives yesterday, the energy and commerce committee, upon which i used to sit when i was there, called together some
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of the nation's biggest insurers to talk about all of the failures of the affordable care act as seen through the lens of the insurance companies. first up on the docket for republicans was the claim that no one had paid their premiums, that all these people had signed up for plans but a report that had been released by the energy and commerce committee in the house suggested that, in fact, only maybe about 60% of them have actually paid their premiums. and so they asked representatives from wellpoint and aetna and other insurance companies to confirm that fact, and, of course, they did not. wellpoint said that in fact 90% of the people that have signed up for wellpoint plans, the biggest insurer across the country, through the affordable care act had paid their premiums. aetna said the number for them right now is somewhere in the low- to mid-80's. both numbers that are actually representative of what people in the nonaffordable care act
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market pay with respect to their premiums. and when you dug deeper into the energy and commerce report, you found out that the reason that they suggested that only about 60% of the people had paid their premiums is because most people's premiums hadn't been due yet and so they didn't actually have to pay them when they had just signed up for the plans in february and march. and so they tried another tack. they said, well, we've heard all these reports and news media representations that you're going to be increasing premiums next year by double digits. and the insurers said, no, we have no idea what our premiums are going to be next year. we don't have the data yet. in fact, we're starting to get the subsidies coming in to our plans that help keep these premiums affordable for low- and middle-class individuals across the country. it turned out to be an absolute disaster for republicans on the energy and commerce committee because, in fact, as the insurers also pointed out, their profits have done pretty well. their stock prices have done pretty well over the past several years because the
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affordable care act is working for patients and, as it turns out, for the insurance companies who have offered plans on the exchanges. and, mr. president, it's just, frankly, representative of a whole litany of complaints that republicans have registered with respect to the affordable care act, horror stories and worst-case scenarios that have simply not come true. and i just want to take a few minutes to run through each of these arguments that republicans have presented because i think it's important to have some context to understand that each one of their representations has not come true and, thus, as they turn to their next series of representations or challenges to the act, i think we can look back on history as a pretty good predictor of the future when it comes to republicans' ability to prognosticate about an affordable care act that is working now for millions of americans. first thing they said is that
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nobody's going to enroll. they said that the web site was unfixable. and, of course, we know that that's the easiest to debunk now that we have 8 million people who have enrolled through the private exchanges, another 4 million to 6 million people who have enrolled via medicaid expansion, 3 million young adults who are now on their parents' plan. in fact, enrollment far outpaced what initial expectations were. beat the c.b.o. estimate by about 2 million people. so clearly republicans were wrong when they said that nobody was going to sign up for the affordable care act. they were also wrong when they said the web site couldn't be fixed. no excuse for what happened in the fall of last year on the web site but it got up and running. and once it did, people were able to get on in record numbers. they said it was going to kill jobs. the affordable care act is going to kill jobs. well, we have done nothing but add jobs by the millions since the affordable care act was
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passed. if you've seen the chart, which i don't have down here on the floor, that shows what has happened since the affordable care act went into law, job growth has continued unabated. specifically, republicans said, well, it's going to result in people who were working full time to move to part-time work. well, the congressional budget office said in a report that came out about two months ago that there's absolutely no economic evidence to suggest that full-time work is shifting to part-time work. that is not a trend that is actually happening in the economy. i understand there are anecdotes and stories which are true where employers have made that choice, but there is no broader economic evidence that there is a shift from full-time work to part-time work. republicans said it's going to cost too much. well, we had sylvia burwell before the help committee today and she was very articulate in explaining the very simple fact that the congressional budget office has revised downward federal health care expenditures by $900 billion over the 10-year
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period from the passage of the affordable care act to a decade later. we're going to be spending $900 billion less than the c.b.o. initially thought we would, in large part because of all of the wellness, prevention, and pay-for-performance measures built into the affordable care act. premiums are lower than expected on these exchanges. that saves $5 billion in and of itself. and the overall cost of the bill is 17% lower than what c.b.o. initially estimated. huge savings for the federal budget and for the specific line items within the federal health care act. okay, fine, they said. but young people aren't going to sign up. it's ultimately going to be older, sicker people and you won't have the right mix. well, here's again what wellpoint, who i think i said was the biggest insurer -- it's the second biggest u.s. health insurer dar says, they said the average th age of enrollees have
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come down every day. it's very encouraging right now, that's wellpoint, the second biggest insurer. big companies like united are going to be offering new plans on exchanges like those in connecticut because they as well see that the risk pools are exactly as they had hoped. but the uninsured won't sign up. this is just people who were insured shifting to other plans that are perhaps better or cheaper for them. bunk as well. the new gallup survey, which is the better data we have on the number of people that have or don't have insurance in this country, shows remarkable decreases over the last two quarters in the number of people that are uninsured in this country. frankly, almost numbers that seem too good to be true, a 25% reduction. in six months' time with respect to the number of people without insurance in this country. 25%, one-quarter of the nation's uninsured are now insured in the
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first six months of the full implementation of the affordable care act. and then lastly, one of the biggest red herrings in this debate has been the issue of cancellations. no doubt there have been hundreds of thousands of plans all across the country that have been canceled since the affordable care act was put into place. but one of the most respected health journals, nonpartisan health journals in the country, "health affairs," did an article a couple weeks ago, i believe, which said that there's absolutely nothing different about the number of cancellations that happened in the wake of the implementation of the act as compared to what had happened in that same period before the implementation of the act. that there is high turnover in the individual market. and while there are certainly some plans that were canceled by insurers because they didn't meet the requirements of the affordable care act, there wasn't a surge in cancellations compared with the number of
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cancellations that happened prior to the act. so you just go through it, whether it's the claim that no one's paying their premiums or that rates are going to go up or that nobody will enroll, that it will kill jobs, that it will cost too much or that young people won't sign up, or that the uninsured won't sign up, or that cancellations are higher than normal -- every single one of these claims turns out to be wrong. that's not to say this act and its implementation hasn't been without its significant warts. there are flaws in the bill. there have been big bumps in implementation. but the fact is, is that polls are starting to show a growing acceptance and approval of the law amongst the american public because they have listened to these claims that the sky is going to fall from republicans. not only has the sky not fallen but 15 million or so people across this country have more affordable health care because of the affordable care act. the uninsurance rate in this nation has dropped by 25%.
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taxpayers are saving $900 billion over the course of the 10-year period following the passage of the bill. i haven't even gotten into the quality metrics. rates of hospital-acquired infections down. the number of people who are readmitted to the hospital after a complicated surgery, dramatically down. this is why we passed the affordable care act. it hasn't lived up to everyone's expectation, but to the extent that the goal of the act was to reduce the number of people who are insured in this country -- uninsured in this country, lower the rate of growth of health care expenditures and increase quality, the data coming in on a day-by-day basis is overwhelming and impossible to ignore. more people have insurance. cost is coming down.
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quality is getting better. and at some point, mr. president, the facts have to matter. as former senator moynihan said, everybody is entitled to their own opinion but you don't get to have your own set of facts. taxpayers, the uninsured, consumers of all stripes understand what the true story is, that all of the republican prognostications about the failure of the affordable care act have not come through in the past. they are not likely to come true in the future. there is a lot of work to do to continue to make the affordable care act better and i hope every senator is ready to do that wo work. but the data and the numbers tell us that increasingly on a day-by-day basis, the affordable care act works. i yield back the floor. i would note the absence of a
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quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
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quorum call:


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